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July 06, 2006

Kiwi Country

So here we are in a cold and overcast Christchurch, first impressions this morning: it's just like England! Same buildings/cars/culture/weather, pretty much everything!

Things didn't start off too well, upon arrival I forgot to declare an apple I had in my hand luggage to customs and was promptly given a NZ$200 (67GBP) fine upon its discovery through the x-ray machine. Welcome to New Zealand. F**k.

Anyway, things have since got better. Tomorrow we are going on the TransAlpine train journey from Christchurch to Greymouth. It's supposed to be a really spectacular journey through the mountains so hopefully the weather will hold :o)

Saturday evening we are off to watch the All Blacks play Austrailia in the Rugby, should be a fun evening.

The Day after that we start our "camper van" (think converted people carrier) hire and start heading south.

Our Blue Mountains tour from Sydney was quite good - although we never saw the mountains. Thick fog had rolled in for the day so all we saw was a thick pea soup :o( Despite that obvious dissapointment we still enjoyed the Wildlife Park and the wine tasting which were both included. We also got a "cruise" (read: ferry) down the harbour, under the bridge back to Circular Quay (dock between the Bridge and Opera House) at night which was very nice.

So fingers crossed for a fun New Zealand, where awesome fry-ups cost less that 5GBP but apples inexcess of 65GBP each...

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 07:30 AM | Comments (1)

July 03, 2006

Fraser Island and Beyond

Well this has been a little neglected over the past week, partly due to the pace at which things have been happening.

So then, Fraser Island. At 6:30am on Sunday 25th we were both sitting in the hostel TV room with 6 other bleary eyed "4x4'ers" watching the various inane safety videos about dingos and how not to treat your 3 tonne high sided 4x4 like an F1 car...

We managed to stay awake through that only to be faced with the next impossibly hard task - understanding the young Aussie bloke who ran the vehicle hire company, he talked FAST! Faster than me on a particulary high sugar and E-numbers day!

We were all taken from the hostel to the 4x4 Shed where we checked over the vehicle and the camping gear. Then following another impromptue break neck speed talking lesson on driving 4x4s we packed up and headed out - Myself at the helm having been 'voted' to drive (everyone else got into the back of the 4x4 before me).

After a short shopping trip at the supermarket ($15 each for 3 days food) we got to the ferry terminal and after an uneventfull 45 minute crossing, we're let loose on the Island.

It took about an hour to bump, roll and rumble across the 15km wide island on the fairly gnarly 4x4 tracks and then another hour to cruise to the north along '75 Mile Beach' (it was probably only 60km but we'll let them have their fun...).

We spent about an hour at the 'Indian Point' lookout, from where we basically, erm, looked out and saw some dolphins and rays playing in the bay. After that we headed back down the beach in search of our first camp site.

Now until I get the photos up you'll just have to go with my descriptions: these tents were pretty dire. Think crap teepees, more pee then tee. You pegged the four corners out, stuck an pole in the middle and... prayed! Each slept 3-4 people in abject discomfort and squallar - the only plus point was it didn't rain ;o)

Day 2 dawned not soon enough and having sneezed too close to the tents (promptly collapsing each) we packed up and started our action packed day of driving south on a perfectly straight flat beach.

The first stop was the Coloured Sands, and area of particluary orange and yellow sand. After that was the Maheno Shipwreck, A wreck of a ship which became more wreck than ship during a rather nasty cyclone. The cyclone soon grew tired of playing with the ship and dumped it on the beach, for all to see and take beaufitfull pictures of (unless you have the ISO of you camera set to high in which case all your pictures come out grainy. Balls).
Next up was "Lake Wabby" a quite cool lake hemmed in by Rainforest on one side and ever advancing steeeeep sand dunes on the other (at this point you realise you previous camera ISO mistake, rectify it and take some nice pictures :o) ).

From there we droive further south to the next camping spot, we again recreated the 'Fraser Favela' and having sweet talked ourselves our of a 100-and-silly-dollar fine for camping in the wrong place sat down to a gormet meal of "pasta, tuna and tomato gloop". Mmmm.
That night it rained. Unfortunaly Camp-Ghetto with its collender styled tents couldn't withstand the light (mist-like) rain and our 'tents' flooded. Thank got for rental sleeping bags and mats! Fortunatly myself and SK had subconsiously chosen the high side of the 'tent' and missed the worst of it.

Day 3 dawned and having made the 'tents' collapse by giving each of them a dirty look we packed up and headed to our final stop - Lake Mackenzie, a rather beautiful crystal blue lake with white sand - all very nice. After swimming and generally chilling out we headed to the ferry terminal for the journey back.

That evening in the Hostel we ate a huuuge amount of pizza each and had an early night as we were catching the greyhound to Noosa the next morning at 6am. Ugh.

We arrived in Noosa with the plan to spent 2 days there, 1 to learn to surf, the other to visit the Austraila Zoo before heading down to Surfers Paradise where SK's Auntie lives.
Unfortunaly the free Shuttle bus to the Zoo was full, so we had to change our plans.

We spent 1 day in Noosa, where we took a 2 hour surf lesson from "Merrick Davis" a man with such broad shoulders and chest he looked like a walking triangle. He was a beast! We were both standing on the boards "surfing" within an hour and had a great time. We had a wondering around the rest of Noosa - where according the the Guide Book all the "well-to-do dahhhlings" live - but unfortunatly didn't find much so had dinner in the hostel before heading to bed.
The next day - to solve the bus problem - we hired a car and drove ourselves south to the Zoo.
Overall the day was awesome - I'll refer you to SK's blog for a proper account, I don't think I can enfuse my writing with quite as much excitement at holding a Koala.
However we did get to see "Steve - the crocman - Irwin" (it's his families zoo) in the flesh, so that made me happy!

Afterwards we drove south to Surfers Paradise which... was a shock. If you're imagining a sleepy surf town you're mistaken. It has the highest realestate prices in all of Aus, it has the highest residential building in the world and is like a little bit of Vegas dumped on the gold coast - it certainly was a culture shock!

SK's Auntie lives about a 10 minute drive away further down the coast. She picked us up from the bus terminal and we met her, her husband and one of their friends who was over from the states. That evening they treated us to the most mazing meal in the local Surf Club Cafe - Seafood lasagne really has never been sooo good.
The next day we drove to Byron bay where we had a really nice day looking around an old hippe town, eating Fish & Chips and looking around all the shops.
The next day we walked from Mermaid Beach up to Surfers itself and allowed ourselves to indulge in a little hedonistic consurmerism a.k.a Shopping! We had a look around and finished the day by going to the top of the Q1 tower - the tallest residential building in the world.
The next day we chilled out by playing some mini-golf :o) The center has 3 courses of 18 holes and we played each one. After 54 par 2 holes we were both tied at 23 over par, so it wasn't a complete disgrace!

Yesterday evening they dropped us at the Bus terminal where we caught the 14 hour overnight bus from Surfers to Sydney. We arrived this morning and have another hectic 2.5 days ahead of us. Today we're going to look around the city and take in some of the sights (the Greyhound Bus drove over the bridge on the way in :o) ). There are various little tours you can do such as climbing to the top of the harbour bridge and various harbour tours.
Tomorrow we're on a day trip to the Blue Mountains about an hours to the west of Sydney and the day after we have the morning to again look around Sydney before heading on.

Anyway, This has got to be far too long as it is, sorry for any typo/grammer errors - but at this stage I don't care :o)

Next Stop NZ !!

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)